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Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has more than 10 million volumes, making it the largest public university collection in the world. Among its most notable collections are the holdings in Slavic and East European literature and history. The Slavic and East European collection is the third largest in North America and the largest collection of any library west of Washington, D.C. Along with the extensive periodical holdings of nineteenth-century titles, the library owns the 562 microfilm reels of the opisi of the Communist Party Archives, the catalog of the Russian National Library, the Prague Spring microform collection, the Polish Independent Publications microform collection, the GULAG Press, 1920-1937 microfiche collection, and the Beloe Dvizhenie: Katalog Kollektsii Listovok (1917-1920) among others. In 2005, Romanian writer Andrei Codrescu donated his vast personal collection of literary works to the Slavic and East European Library.

Since 1973, the Slavic and East European Library has been the focal point of the University of Illinois Summer Research Laboratory on Russia and Eastern Europe. Over the past 30 years, the Lab has served as “an intellectual summer camp” for professors, independent scholars and advanced graduate students. To date, 2,915 scholars from 958 institutions in Canada, the United States and 49 other countries have attended the Lab, to work with one of the largest and best Slavic and Eastern European library collections in North America. Besides providing access to the library and its reference staff, the Summer Research Lab also hosts working groups, organizes lectures and film screenings, and sponsors the annual summer conference, “The Ralph and Ruth Fisher Forum.” Working group topics in the past have included: women in Slavic culture, Ukrainian studies, early Russian history, and masculinities.

The federally-funded Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (established in 1959) co-sponsors events, organizes conferences, holds colloquia and noontime scholars' talks, and provides travel grants to graduate students presenting papers at conferences. Colloquium speakers over the past few years have included: Clare Cavanagh Andrew Wachtel, Helena Goscilo, Eric Naiman, Yuri Tsivian, and John Bowlt. The Center administers the Foreign Languages Area Study (FLAS) fellowshi that provides funding for the study of foreign languages, either at the UIUC or abroad, and particularly targets the less commonly taught Slavic languages.

The European Union Center (EUC), established in fall 1998 through a grant from the European Commission, is another federally-funded National Resource Center that supports the activities of the Slavic Department, including instruction in Czech and Polish. Through its National Resource Center grant, the EUC is able to develop courses with EU content in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs, provide support for conferences and workshops, and expand UIUC library resources on the EU. FLAS fellowships for Czech, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian and Croatian, and Turkish can also be sought through the EUC. In collaboration with REEEC and the EUC, the Slavic department at the University of Illinois currently offers Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Serbian and Croatian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, and Turkish.

The Russian Studies Circle ( kruzhok ), now in its 10th year, brings together faculty and graduate students working on Russian literature, culture, history, anthropology, and the visual arts, for informal discussions of works-in-progress, recently published books, and works by authors visiting the UIUC campus. Past visitors and guests of the kruzhok have included Svetlana Boym, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Alexei Yurchak, and Cathy Popkin, among others.

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities promotes interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The IPRH grants fellowships to UIUC faculty and graduate students, and to external post-doctoral scholars, who work in yearlong symposia on thematic topics such as “Violence,” “Difference,” “Belief,” and the theme for 2006-07, “Beauty.” The IPRH also provides financial support to faculty and graduate student reading groups and coordinates numerous lectures and panel discussions. Reading groups related to Slavic studies have included Comparative Post-Socialist Studies; the East European Reading Group; Film, Society, and Power; New Marxisms; the Russian Studies Circle; and the Jewish Studies Workshop.

The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory is an interdisciplinary program that, for over twenty-five years, has been at the forefront of debates within the US academy about poststructuralism and cultural studies, Marxism and postcolonial theory, and the politics of disciplinarity and knowledge production. The Unit offers regular criticism seminars , monthly colloquia , visits to campus by distinguished scholars from other universities. It sponsors a series of activities, including a criticism seminar, that focuses in depth on a particular theme. One recent seminar focused on the topic of Modernities, with participation from faculty in Russian and East European Studies. Unit-affiliated students receive support for conference travel and invitations to participate in all Unit activities, including a yearly series of lectures on Modern Critical Theory.

Finally, since 1996, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been home to the Slavic Review, a premier journal of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies and the membership journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. The Slavic Review publishes articles and special issues on a wide range of interdisciplinary topics, including literature, history, cinema, social science, and cultural studies. Qualified UIUC graduate students are recommended by their departments for editorial assistantships at the journal, which provides them with a unique insider look at academic publishing.